Thursday 5 March 2015

One Down , Thousands Still At Large.

A senior social worker was given an electronic tag and a suspended prison sentence after admitting fraud.

A “good samaritan” handed £13,000 to social worker Gwen Thomas when his elderly neighbour had to be taken to hospital from their home on Cowbridge Road in Cardiff.
Hassane Fodil was praised by a judge for looking out for his community and then helping bring 59-year-old Thomas to justice.
Cardiff Crown Court heard that weeks after collecting the cash, Mr Fodil checked up on it and Thomas was still found to have it.


'She told colleagues she had forgotten about the money'

Challenged, she told colleagues she simply had forgotten about it.
But she withdrew over £2,000 from her own bank account before handing it over.

Recorder of Cardiff Judge Eleri Rees told Thomas: “It is clear you had spent some of it.
“You couldn’t resist the temptation when the neighbour, acting as a good Samaritan, handed the money to you.

“Mr Fodil is commended by this court, for looking after his elderly neighbour’s affairs and for his diligence in then pursuing it and bringing the offence to light.”

Prosecutor David Thomas said Thomas had been employed part time by Cardiff council at the time and was also working for the local authority in Swansea where she had responsibilities in care homes relating to the Mental Capacity Act.

A fictitious assessor named 'Sharon Thomas'

In Swansea, she created a fictitious assessor she named ‘Sharon Thomas’ to write reports - for £125-a-time - verifying whether people should be detained under the Act.

She was caught when Swansea officials queried the qualifications of ‘Sharon’ after it received invoices for her work.

Judge Rees said ‘Sharon’ Thomas had not just been ticking boxes but making detailed observations that patients were suffering dementia or were confused.

Thomas, pleaded guilty to two charges of fraud and also admitted a breach of data protection which related to a private care business she set up.

Mr Thomas told the court: “It had detailed information about people she’d had no right to access including their personal bank details.”

A 'spectacular fall from grace'

Thomas, of Llethrin Road, Llanelli, was described as being “full of remorse” and having had a “spectacular fall from grace”.

The judge told her: “It is shocking to see someone who has spent most of their life in public service standing in the dock on charges involving serious breaches of trust against the most vulnerable in our society.

“The courts have a duty to protect those who rely on social workers and others to act in a trustworthy fashion”.

She said it was not without “some hesitation” that she was suspending the inevitable 16-month jail sentence but said Thomas had some health problems and at her age, would struggle behind bars.
Thomas was ordered to wear an electronic tag and keep a 6pm to 6am curfew for 18 weeks.
She was also fined £2,000 with £500 costs and told she would serve an immediate six weeks in jail if she doesn’t pay it.

Judge Rees told her: “I have no doubt the authorities who license social workers will be informed and you will not be allowed to do the work again.”

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